Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kentucky 91 - 67 Auburn (Nashville, Tenn.) (SEC Tournament) (No. 2,173)

Voices of the game . . . .

Scene:  Saturday night.  A Cracker Barrel in Clarksville, Tenn.  A forty-something dad, his wife, and their teenage sons are digging into their meals.  Everyone is wearing Kentucky gear.

Elder son:  Dad, why can't we stay for the final?

Dad:  I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, and you guys have to get your science projects done.

Younger son:  Dad, did you see that all those blocks from Cauley-Stein?  He's the best -- isn't he the best, Dad?

Elder son:  No, he's not.  Karl-Anthony Towns is the best player on the team.  Everyone knows that.

Younger son:  I don't think so.  Willie had 18 points and 7 rebounds.  On the radio, Coach Cal said he played great.  And he's my favorite player.  He's funny.

Elder son:  But if you look at the mock drafts --

Younger son:  Dad, come on.  Who's the best?

Mom:  Boys, you need to quit arguing and finish your food.  We've got to get home.

Scene:  Monday morning.  A conference room in a Cincinnati law firm.  The walls are covered with 19th century pictures of life along the Ohio River.  Seated around a big table, three lawyers in suits are listening to their client, a big man with a red face whose tax return shows a residence in Woodford County, Kentucky, and which identifies his profession as "farmer."

Oldest lawyer:  So you were down there for the big tournament?

Farmer:  Well, I just flew down there for the game on Saturday.  Fred had some tickets right behind the bench, and he wanted to know if I could use them.  I came back yesterday to work on this stuff.

Oldest lawyer:  How'd they look?

Farmer:  They looked pretty great in the game I saw.  They just killed Auburn, 91 to 67.  But I'll tell you this, that Calipari he never stops talking.  And the way he talks to those players -- you just wouldn't believe some of the things he says.  It's amazing to me that he gets 'em to put up with it.

Oldest lawyer:  I imagine they have to do what he says -- those boys have a lot of money at stake.  Did you see Ashley Judd?

Farmer:  Don't you know it!  She looked great -- just about the same as ever.  Scottie Pippin was there, too.

Oldest lawyer:  Well, it sounds like a lot of fun.  Now about this old lease you asked us to look at, here's what we suggest . . . .

Scene:  Sunday morning.  Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Louisville.  Mass is in progress.  Toward the back of the church, a man is wearing a denim jacket over a UK sweatshirt.  As he turns around to give the sign of peace to the people sitting behind him, he finds himself shaking hands with a man wearing a denim jacket over a U of L sweatshirt.  The two men raise eyebrows, grin, and then turn their eyes back toward the front.

Scene:  Monday afternoon in the gymnasium at the First Baptist Church in Paducah.  Four boys, ages 12 to 14, are dribbling basketballs and shooting at an 8-foot goal:

Boy # 1:  And here's Aaron Harrison.  He shoots -- got it!

Boy # 2:  Look, I'm being Andrew Harrison {He tries to dribble the ball between his legs, but he loses it and the ball rolls away.}

Boy # 3:  Tyler Ulis drives the lane, he shoots the tear-drop jumper -- it's good!

Boy # 4:  Danny, look I'll be Marcus Lee.  If you throw me a lob pass, I think I can dunk it.  {Boy # 1 throws the ball, and it goes far over his head.  Boy # 1 goes off to chase the ball}  Okay, now I'm Towns.  {Boy # 3 leaps out at Boy # 2, blocking his next jump shot.}  BLOCKED BY TOWNS!  Kentucky on the run-out!  {Boy # 3 grabs the ball and dashes off toward a goal at the other end of the gym.}

Scene:  Monday afternoon.  A conference room in an Atlanta skyscraper.  A group of twenty-something interns are having lunch.

Intern # 1:  Well, Bob, you had to be pretty happy with Auburn this weekend?

Intern # 2:  What happened?  Did I miss something?  Did Muschamp say anything about the defense for next year?

Intern # 1:  No, I was talking about basketball -- the SEC Tournament -- Auburn won three games in a row and made the semi-finals.  First time since 1985.  Pearl's doing a great job for them.

Intern # 2:  Oh, you confused me.  I thought you were talking about a sport that matters.

Intern # 3:  It matters to Williamson because in Kentucky, they can't understand any sport that requires more than five players at a time.  What's the name of the town of yours, Williamson, Paintsville?  Tell the truth, y'all don't have shoes there, isn't that right?

Scene:  Saturday afternoon.  A harried looking man at the offices of the Lexington Herald-Leader looks at a computer and speaks into a telephone.

Harried-looking man:  Well, Jerry, I know.  I know.  I know.  But look here, I mean, here's your lede:  "The inevitability of Kentucky's victory was apparent at tip-off."  And then you make a crack about Towns jumping center against a walk-on.  Not exactly stirring stuff.  {There's an angry buzzing on the other end of the phone.}  Well, of course it wasn't much of a game, but to our readers -- {The buzzing on the other end of the phone intensifies.}  But Jerry, even from your perspective, you must see that this team is 33-0, and there's something historic -- {an explosion of buzzing at the other end of the line -- it's obvious that Jerry is very upset about something}.  Okay, Jerry, if that's how you feel about it.  Sure.  No, we won't make any changes.

Scene:  Saturday afternoon in Nashville.  A bored-looking twenty-something guy, wearing a tee-shirt that says COME SEE ROCK CITY, and a windbreaker advertising a bowling league in Owensboro, is screening calls for a radio show.  He punches a button, and a furious woman comes on the line.

Furious woman:  I want Matt to talk about what an OUTRAGE it is that DOUG SHOWS is allowed to OFFICIATE ANY GAMES THAT INVOLVE THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY.  That man HATES KENTUCKY.  He did EVERYTHING HE COULD to help keep Auburn IN THAT GAME!

Call-screener (in very innocent voice):  What do you mean, Ma'am?

Furious woman:  Did you SEE THE GAME?  It was AWFUL.  They called FORTY-NINE FOULS on both teams.  Auburn shot THIRTY-FOUR FREE THROWS.  That's the only reason they were even IN THE GAME?  Didn't you listen to TOM LEACH?  He talked about it.  Auburn only shot 33 percent FROM THE FIELD.  They got TWENTY-FIVE POINTS at the line.  It's that DOUG SHOWS.  He HATES US.

Call-screener (in same innocent voice):  But Ma'am, you must know that Kentucky shot 35 free throws as well.  It may have been . . . .

Furious woman:  DON'T YOU TRY THAT WITH ME!  THOSE WERE REAL FOULS.  Those boys from Auburn LIKED TO HAVE KILLED OUR GUYS.  Let me speak to MATT!

Scene:  Saturday night.  We are in the "man-cave" of a new house in the distant suburbs of St. Louis.  The room is decorated with Kentucky memorabilia -- pennants, signed basketballs, posters of old teams, framed pictures of Tubby Smith and John Calipari, and the like.  There's a pool table with a blue felt, and a desk covered with computer gear and pictures of a young man, his wife, and three daughters.  The young man himself is sitting in an enormous recliner, wearing a tee-shirt that says "SUCCEED AND PROCEED."  He's wearing what used to be a white baseball cap, now gray from years of use, with a blue UK logo.  He's eating popcorn and watching a game between UAB and Middle Tennessee State.  Suddenly the door comes open, and three girls -- the daughters from the photo -- enter the room.  Their ages are six, seven, and eight.  They are all wearing St. Louis baseball hats.

Six-year-old:  Daddy, look, Mommy got us new hats!  It's almost baseball season!  When can we go outside and play catch again?

Eight-year-old:  Daddy, are you still watching basketball?  I thought Kentucky's game was over.

Daddy:  Well, it is.  This is another game.

Seven-year old:  Mommy says its time to eat and that you shouldn't eat so much popcorn.

Six-year-old:  Daddy, I thought you liked baseball.  Why do you watch so much basketball?  When will the Cardinals start?  Can we go to more games this year?  Will they still have those drinks that I like?

Scene:  Saturday afternoon.  An old woman sits alone by herself in a living room in Princeton.  The room is filled almost to bursting with pictures, hand-made quilts, needlepoint projects, and magazines.  In the corner, an old television is hooked up to a VCR that appears to have been made in about 1987.  The old woman is reading her Bible.  Suddenly, the phone rings and the old woman picks it up.

Mamaw:  Hello?

Grand-daughter:  They did it again, Mamaw.  They beat Auburn, 91 to 67.  Go ahead and watch the tape.

Mamaw:  How did they look?

Grand-daughter:  Oh, it wasn't much of a game.  They jumped out to a big lead from the get-go, and had a pretty easy time of it.  If the officials hadn't called so many fouls, it would have been even worse.

Mamaw:  What about Booker?  How did he look?

Grand-daughter:  He looked a lot better -- at least I thought so.  Daddy thinks he still doesn't have his confidence.  But he made at least two three-pointers, and he seemed OK.

Mamaw:  They're going to need him before this is all over.  You've got to make shots.  You can't just count on defense to bail you out.  When you get in that NCAA Tournament, you're going to play teams that can score on anyone.  Has Arkansas played yet?

Grand-daughter:  No, the Kentucky game just finished.  Arkansas and Georgia are next.

Mamaw:  If we get Arkansas in the final tomorrow, that'll be a tough game.

Grand-daughter:  They didn't have too much trouble with them before.

Mamaw:  Tournaments are different.  You wait and see.  There's still a long ways to go.  But it sounds like they were OK for today.  I'll watch the tape and see for myself.  Thanks for calling.  I love you.  Tell your dad I said hi.

She hangs up the phone and walks over to the VCR, talking to herself as she does so.  Still a long ways to go.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, as always. This is like if Jimmy Webb wrote a sports story.